Thursday, February 25, 2010

Contractor Reviews & Thoughts

I forced myself to "stick to the plan" and contact more than one contractor for this potential remodeling in the kitchen. This was quite hard for me to do, but I did it. Here are my thoughts on them so far.

Contractor #1: David Harmon - Harmon Remodeling - (540) 389-3988

This is the first guy I called. A real estate agent friend called me & recommended him. While she hadn't worked with him personally she assured me that he comes highly recommended. ~ Recommendations are key for me! ~
I already told you about my first meeting with him, but I'll give a quick recap as I don't expect anyone remembers anything I've written before.
When I called him he actually told me that he was expecting my call. *Point Awarded* He told me he wasn't sure he could make it out that day, but would be able to by the end of the week. He said he would see how the day went (he wasn't feeling too good) and would let me know. He ended up calling me back and coming out THAT day & staying for 2 hours! *Another Point Awarded*
He threw out LOTS of ideas. Ideas I hadn't thought of. Ideas that got me super-excited about all the possibilities. He liked looking at my library books of ideas with me. Very cool. AND, he kept reiterating about helping people keep within tight budgets. *Mega Points Awarded!*
We left that meeting with him telling me to talk everything over with Justin and he'd be back on Sunday. He also advised that we should go out and look at stuff that we liked on Saturday. Groovus. (Sorry - I'm a Mel Brooks fan & recently re-watched 'History of the World Part 1' - watch the Roman scene & you'll figure out the 'groovus' reference)

Sunday comes around and he arrives perfectly on time. Justin and I have spent the week (much to Justin's dismay probably) talking over and over about what to do or not do, what we like and what we didn't care for as much. We went over these things with him. He was really flexible about everything, it was good.
This time we took him down in the basement to get a look at things (the leaky chimney goes from the roof to the basement), he went up in the attic with Justin, and we brought the ladder outside so he could check out the roof.
We did go out on Saturday like he recommended. We checked out Home Depot, Lowes, and Habitat's Re-Store in downtown. We decided we would rather go with tile over bamboo simply because of cost. The tile is just a lot cheaper, and cost is a very big issue. (Elena ~ Your words have not been forgotten about getting a case of the "dropsies"!)
I mentioned to him that we'd like to try and find materials from Habitat's Re-Store and he was all for that. He said he liked going there and getting stuff, as well as donating stuff there! *More Points for David!*

This time he was here a little over an hour. When he left he said to give him a couple days and he'd get back with us for an estimate.
OK. It is now Thursday and he came out on Sunday. I am a big stickler on promptness. He did mention to us something (family related) that could understandably be delaying his getting back to us. So, I won't deduct points yet, but if I end up having to call him then that will be a point deduction in my book.

Contractor #2: Structures -

The second guy I called. Again, I mentioned this in the last blog, but I'll go over it again quickly.
I called for Adam Cohen, who is known for his green design and work. I got transferred to his voice mail, he called me back. I told him what was going on and what we kinda were looking for. He told me that first I needed the "number guy" to come out. OK. The "numbers guy," aka Rob Leonard, wasn't in but he'd have him call me. He did end up calling me the next day (when I blogged he hadn't yet), which was good. However, I was left feeling like I was dealing with a Big Company, something I didn't like too much. *Points Deducted*
Rob Leonard came out this past Tuesday. I'll admit, Monday I was sick in bed all day so I wasn't really looking forward to having anyone over on Tuesday but since I'd promised to get more than one quote I didn't cancel the appointment. He called to say he was running a little late, which ended up working out better for me as my step-father was picking up the boys after naps. No points deducted for running late since he called first and arrived when he said he would. He was also very apologetic. All good in my book.

Justin and I agreed to start off on a blank slate of sorts with Structures. Not to give them the ideas we liked from David Harmon, but rather to see what ideas they would come up with and suggest on their own. After all, that is one of the points of getting more than one estimate, right?

Mr. Leonard's card says that he is the 'Project Manager' which I suppose looks, sounds, and is a lot better than it saying 'Numbers Guy.'
We talked about the kitchen first. What the issues were. Then we talked about the back hallway and bathroom/pantry. Next we went down to the basement. Finally he came back up, took measurements and drawing a basic outline of the kitchen.

He did propose some ideas, but not nearly as many as Mr. Harmon. Nor was there the excitement and general rush of possibilities there.
He told me that he would take all this back to Mr. Cohen, who is the designer, and that Mr. Cohen would draw up stuff. I was left wondering if I was going to be billed for Mr. Cohen's work. --- OK, I know I won't be billed. I didn't sign anything and there wasn't a mention of any charge, I'm just saying that is the feeling I got. *Points Deducted - I didn't like that feeling*

Mr. Leonard was really nice though. We talked about being green and doing various things around the house, in general, to work towards that goal. *Points Awarded - he was a nice guy*
He left saying he would get back to Mr. Cohen with everything and they would get back to me. He apologized for taking up so much of my time, though I think he was only here for an hour or so and there was certainly no need to apologize. Hence, the points awarded above.

In General

You can obviously see who I am leaning towards so far. In general, I always prefer to go with smaller companies, family based businesses, and individuals rather than the 'Big Guys.' It's just how I am.
However, I still am going to wait and see what they both come back with, and how long it takes them to get back with me!

And yes, I know expecting a contractor to actually stay on a set schedule is a silly pipe dream. What can I say, I'm a silly chick.


Knitterwockey said...

What exactly does the habitat restore have? Just materials or does it have furniture too? Kev and I are in the market for a new kitchen table.

Carrie and Justin said...

Definitely check out Habitat Re-Store!! They have materials as well as furniture. Furniture is upstairs. We saw several tables when we were there last Saturday.
They had some really cool footstool/ottomans too.
Definitely worth a quick stroll through, if nothing else, just to see.

Elena said...

The worst part about remodeling something is remodeling. I'm dreading just picking out a dishwasher...good luck with your kitchen and keep us updated in case I ever get brave enough to actually do it.

Carrie and Justin said...

Don't go with Frigidaire. We bought a new dishwasher a couple of years ago. An Energy Star model, but a low-end one.
We've had several not-too-serious, but just pain in the ass situations with it.
We were looking at a Frigidaire fridge until a friend recommended against it & that reminded me of the issues with the dishwasher.
So far, if all goes well, looks like it will be a Whirlpool fridge and a GE stove.
Fingers crossed though!

Elena said...

I have a Frigidaire now and it sucks. It was a pretty low end one. I'm thinking Whirlpool too. I don't know if I should hold out to the cash for appliances program that supposed to come to VA in April. I wonder how much I would save...